The AAC is full of talented players, with passionate fan bases and great TV markets. Many of the teams in the AAC would be a second tier team in a power five conference, yet no respect is given. At this rate, it looks like the AAC will be stuck in mediocrity, and never make a CFP bowl game, unless they can do something to improve their schedules.
As we all know, the FCS games are designed to be easy win games. The smaller school gets a monetary bump, while the bigger school gets a cheap, single game, and is one game closer to bowl eligibility. As mutually beneficial as it may sound, this hurts the strength of schedule of each school. Additionally, the games really aren’t worth playing or watching (unless it is a top FCS team). If the American wants to be taken seriously in their P6 initiative, they have to get rid of these FCS games.
Although it may sound crazy, there are some logical points in discarding of the FCS game and replacing it with a low tier P5 or any G5 school. The Big 10 tried it temporarily but no other conference joined them in doing so. Thus, it was recently reinstated this past year. However, the AAC should aim to be the first conference to permanently ban FCS games for good. Here are the reasons the FCS games should go.
Attendance will boost
I’ll take my school, USF, as an example. This year, USF played Stony Brook as our home opener. I’m sorry Stony Brook, but this game is not an entertaining draw. This is the entertainment business after all. In order to get people in the stadium, you have to play an interesting opponent. Heck, even one of the USF players didn’t know where Stony Brook was located. It would do wonders for USF if they replaced Stony Brook with, lets say, a G5 Florida team like FAU or FIU or a P5 opponent like Rutgers (an old Big East opponent). These in-state games or old nostalgia games are what will draw fans to come. I know we shouldn’t have to work hard to sell tickets with a Heisman candidate and a fun offense to watch, but better teams would still help with attendance.
Beating an FCS team has practically zero exposure value but a loss is fatal
This couldn’t be more accurate. East Carolina lost to James Madison, and made the entire conference look bad. Granted, James Madison is an FBS team talent-wise at the FCS level, national college football fans and media don’t really follow anything else other than P5 football. Stony Brook, now a ranked team in the FCS poll, played USF tough and down to the wire. Should USF have put them out of their misery earlier? Absolutely. But now everyone looks back at that game and wonders why USF even played it. It made the team look much more overrated than they actually are. We all knew USF would win, but this win did nothing but hurt the program.
Improved Strength of Schedule
This is the obvious one, but it’s super important. The selection committee and the pollsters use this stat more than any other stat. Just turn on any talk show and the first thing we hear when comparing teams is strength of schedule. Adding a low tier P5 or a decent G5 team would be much more beneficial than an FCS team we know the AAC should beat. For teams like USF, UCF or Memphis, having those FCS wins do nothing for the conference’s hopes of progressing to the College Football Playoff or an NY6 bowl game. A good win against an FBS school would actually count towards something.
Gives opposing schools a chance to recruit in the area
This is another big point. Many would ask, “Why would a low P5 team like Rutgers, travel to go lose a game?” Because recruiting. All it takes is for a team to have a decent game, and recruits will take notice. The kids the AAC recruits are top notch players that both other G5 and P5 conferences would love to have. This opens up opportunities for schools to get players they might not have had a chance of getting before.
If the AAC schools can swing it, I think it is worth taking this chance to become the first G5 conference to ban FCS foes. In my opinion, the games against FCS teams bring insignificant value. They’re not a draw, they really can only hurt you, and the strength of schedule automatically drops. The AAC can’t afford a drop in strength of schedule like the other P5 conferences, as the AAC teams don’t get the opportunity to play ranked teams almost every week. This option must be considered by the conference if they want to see the P6 campaign succeed.
Do you believe the AAC should refuse to play FCS teams?
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